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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

INTRODUCTION                              vii

poetical ideas to my practical effort, and there are scattered
throughout India and the island of Java Tagore-Montessorl
Schools.

To what has the spread of this educational method be due?
It is certainly not because of the science which figures so promi-
nently in the Italian title of the book; nor is it because an attempt
Is made to link up with experimental psychology many of the
-experiments on children which have made such extraordinary pro-
gress possible for them. Anyone who is really willing to read these
-efforts will find that through these new experiments an attempt is
made to show (a truth which official science had already under-
stood between the second and third editions, by its own efforts,
without any help from this book) that experimental psychology
has been one of the many fleeting and changeable tendencies of
human thought. As it was, however, at the height of its develop-
ment and success when this book was published for the first time,
it is directed to opposing this erroneous idea—that it is possible to
reform the school merely by studying the child in that manner.
The reactions provoked instantaneously by material stimuli which
are applied to the mind for a few short seconds are more illusory
than can be imagined by anyone who is trying to uncover by this
means some truth hidden in the human mind. It is still more
illusory to suppose that not only psychology but education may
be reformed by a similar theory. In fact, in the United States of
America, experimental psychology applied to the study of pupils
with the Binet tests and their derivatives, or with sense reactions
•derived from the first German experiments of Fechner and Wundt,
have not led to a reform of education but to the reform of exami-
nation tests. Instead of basing the final, or State examinations,
on what the child had learnt, it was proposed to base them on his
human value, on his mental attitudes, as ascertained by means of
mental tests. Such a substitution is the logical consequence of
the application of instantaneous and stimulating reagents.

My idea of experimenting differs from this in two ways.   First,
because it refrains from inciting reactions depending on the will of